Credits: John Ostrander (writer), Steve Epting (penciler), Andrew Pepoy & Mark Prudeaux (inks), Comicraft (letters), Brad Vancata (colors)
Summary: Bishop convinces Malcolm to disobey orders and help him stop the Rook. At Rook’s HQ, the Fanatix plan to impersonate the XSE and assassinate the anti-mutant crusader, Trask. Malcolm springs Shard, as the Fanatix bring a captive Randall to a gathering of disaffected mutants. Soon, the reunited XSE rescue Randall and chase Rook back to his headquarters. There, they discover his true identity. Rook is Jimmy Knox, the adolescent son of philanthropist Jerome Knox. Using his possession powers, which also work on LMDs, he hoped to spark a human/mutant war. Knox is arrested and Bishop is cleared.
Continuity Notes: The Rook kills Fanatix members Pulsar and Shadowbox during the story. Pulsar is killed for siding with Randall and refusing to murder him, but Shadowbox is killed for no obvious reason.
“Huh?” Moment: Bishop punches Malcolm in the face to make his escape look convincing. Later, Malcolm tells Shard to look at his chin as proof. His chin is actually covered with that metal face gear he wears, so it’s fine. His cheek, on the other hand, is swollen.
Review: First, an apology. So far, I’ve neglected to mention that every male protagonist in this series has a beautifully coiffed mullet. Overlooking a mullet reference is clearly a violation of Blogger’s Terms of Service, so I regret waiting until the final issue to use such references as “Tennessee Top Hat,” “Neck Warmer,” “Canadian Passport,” “Camaro Cut,” and “Mississippi Mudflap.” (I can’t speak for Wordpress, but I imagine they have a similar statute.) If you’ll accept my apology, we can move on.
Bishop: XSE concludes with all of the pieces put back into place, which isn’t surprising since it’s a prequel story. The finale introduces two new characters, a generic member of the Trask family and the junior Knox, that end up playing major roles in the conclusion. Actually, the unnamed Trask doesn’t even make a real appearance, but he’s mentioned on the final page to illustrate the irony of the XSE’s mission enabling him to continue preaching mutant hatred. I don’t mind the sudden reveal of evil little Jimmy Knox, since it’s obvious Ostrander was setting up Annabella Knox as a red herring in the previous issues. It is a bit of cheat that the Rook’s identity belongs to a character we’re only seeing now, but this is only a three-issue miniseries, and not a “Who Is the Hobgoblin?” prolonged mystery. Revealing that Rook’s power is possession, and that the shapeshifting only belonged to the LMDs he controlled, is rather clever. Like the previous Bishop and XSE minis, some of the dialogue is clunky and there’s of course a sense that this was a slot on the schedule waiting for a story, but overall, this is the strongest of the Bishop solo minis.